Tag Archives: condo

Today: Spring spruce-up.

I’ve been putting off spring cleaning (and Lord, do those closets need to be addressed) for weeks, but now that it’s finally warm enough to open the windows and let some fresh air in, I’m running out of excuses.  It’s time to step away from the spring cleaning Pinterest boards and actually, well… do some cleaning.

Unless, of course… I come up with some other way to procrastinate.  The lovely folks at Minted reached out at the perfect time with the opportunity to do a little window wall art shopping.  I’ve ordered all kinds of holiday cards and invitations from Minted, but hadn’t ordered any prints or photos from them before.  

After a few minutes, it became clear I could spend hours scrolling through their art section.  And maybe I did.  Instead of washing windows.  

Spring Spruce-up with Minted

gallery wall

We’ve been adding to this little collection of photos and prints here and there, and I’m excited to add a few new pieces this spring.  Minted offered me a credit to my account to do a little shopping and sprucing up, in exchange for sharing some of my favorite items here.  

I’m eyeing the constellation and birthstone prints for Grace’s room.  I like that they’re personal, without being childish.  So many of their art prints would make lovely gifts for spring birthdays, weddings and showers.  Oh, and Mother’s Day (hint, hint). 

Alright.  Time to clean.  Just kidding… it’s time to decorate Easter eggs.  And then make up 900 other things to do when I’m done.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s on your spring to-do list?

Today: Easy paint projects.

You know that saying, A little goes a long way?  That’s the theme today.  Got a little paint leftover from a bigger project (say, that time your husband painted the nursery while you spent the day eating ice cream)?  Or maybe you can’t bear to throw away a nearly empty bottle of nail polish?  Or perhaps you’re simply making room for creativity (Yes, my people! Yes!) and want to use what you have hanging around.  Like… your keys.  Or your roommate’s nail polish.

I’ve got just the project (or two) for you.

Easy paint projects

Plant markers

It could just be me, but um… most plants sort of look alike. Until the flowers or fruit or vegetables show up.  But until then, I’m like… Is this the cilantro or the jalapeño?  Does it need moderate or full sun?  Should I water this today or in a week?  And while I’m busy pondering, the thing dies.  Sad, but (kind of) true.

Super easy solution: Dip a popsicle stick in paint, wait for the paint to dry (obvi) and use a Sharpie or label maker to, you know, label the plant… and you’ve got yourself a semi-cool looking plant marker.  I like to pretend I ate four Yasso frozen Greek yogurt bars just for the sake of this project, but I ate them… for the sake of eating them.

Color code your keys

Another case of mistaken identity: Most of my keys, whether for my office or home, look like the other keys on my ring.  For months, I’ve spent the better part of five minutes trying to get into my own office each morning, branding myself as either super-unorganized or super-likely to be a robber.

While it may be tempting to label your keys something like “front door” or “office,”  that seems unsafe and you know my motto (safety first, fun second).  Instead, I broke out a few bottles of nail polish and color coded my keys.

I used 2-3 coats for each key, and found it only took a few minutes to dry.  With that said, I wouldn’t tempt fate and start this project right before you’re headed out the door.  Also, my office keys read “duplication prohibited.”  I am hoping decoration is okay.

DIY memo board

This project is a tiny bit more involved, but it’s a fun way to repurpose an unused or mismatched picture frame.  I was hoping to find a little memo board for Grace’s room, but I couldn’t find a non-hideous white board, so I picked up an inexpensive frame and made my own.

After removing the glass from the frame and carefully cleaning it, I applied three coats of mint green paint to the backside, letting each coat dry for an hour or so.  I used an oil paint pen to draw a little note on the frame, and up on the wall it went.  Right now we use it to keep track of library due dates and packing lists for day care, but eventually I’d like to use it to leave little love notes for my girl.  You know, once she can read.

ID your sunglasses

My family has precisely five things in common with the Kennedys:

  1. We’re New Englanders.
  2. We’re Catholic.
  3. We enjoy politics.
  4. We love the Cape.
  5. We wear Wayfayers.

We all spent the 4th of July together, and I accidentally stole my sister’s sunglasses at least four times.  I probably wore my dad’s glasses to the beach.  Who knows.  I might be wearing my brother-in-law’s glasses now, were it not for my semi-clever solution.  When we got back to Boston, I broke out the nail polish again, and painted a little dot of mint candy apple on the inside arm of my glasses.

A little bit of paint and suddenly I’m wearing my own glasses, opening all the right doors (with the right keys), and packing precisely what Grace needs for the day.  Oh, and yes.  I can safely distinguish between our jalapeno and cilantro plants.  Mostly because we now have a hearty crop of peppers.

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite way to use up that last bit of paint?

Today: The old and the new… bookshelves.

I love my books nearly as much as I love reading.  Which is a lot.  When I came home from Minneapolis to find that Nick had ventured to IKEA alone and built a home for the entire rainbow of them, I was quite the happy girl and got right down to business.

You may remember our built-in bookshelves from our first place.

The old

After they spent a few weeks cooped up in moving boxes, I was happy to liberate Charles Dickens and Martha Stewart and Hilary Thayer Hamann.

The new

We’ve still got a few more boxes to unpack, but I may just curl up and read instead.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Wait… it’s not Friday?…
  • Love this: Super Mario bento boxes from The Kitchn
  • Going a little nuts with the washi tape

Read anything good lately?

Today: Kitchen tour and an easy, gluten-free and vegan black bean dip.

Whew.  We are all moved in (unpacking is another story… but we’re getting there) and settling back into normal life.  One that doesn’t involve Comcast coming over for tea to break and fix things three days in a row.  We were excited to share our new home– and dinner and drinks– with a few friends last night.  I’ve got a super easy, football-friendly recipe to share, but first… a little tour.

Kitchen tour

I am tempted to say the kitchen is my favorite part of our new condo, but I’ve pretty much fallen in love with it all.  Perhaps I will quit my job and start filming a cooking show from our new kitchen.  My target audience would be people who like lettuce and Cheez-Its (but not together).  It would soon be canceled for one of two reasons:

  1. No one would watch it (highly likely)
  2. I would start a fire while cutting off a finger (equally likely)

I still can’t believe we found such a perfectly us home.

I love a good divided recycling and trash center. Thank you, Jesus. And the Container Store. #nerdalert

Unpacking our kitchen boxes was surprisingly fun.  There is the perfect place for everything, including our entire wedding registry.  We had put many of our gifts in storage, as space was at a premium in our first condo.  Opening everything for the second time reminded me how lucky we are to have such wonderful friends and family.  I wish we could get everyone together again, eat some cake pops and dance to DJ Sheldon’s jams until we get kicked out th’ building.

Just off the kitchen is our deck.  We have great sunset views and Clark has plenty of people to creep on.  He is a one man dog neighborhood patrol.  We’ll likely wait until next spring to um… spring for new deck furniture, but for now, we’re making do with a pair of old camp chairs and a gas grill (which Nick has used every night since we moved in).

We had a shared roof deck at our first condo, which was lovely, but being able to step out onto the deck each morning with a cup of decaf tea (for me) or Nespresso (for Nick) has been such a great change.  Clearly, the Frenchie approves.

The new kitchen (and the disappearance of morning sickness, hallelujah) has motivated me to spend a bit more time cooking, baking and creating.  Last night, I whipped up a really easy black bean dip to share with Matt, Pam, Tina and Mal, who joined us for dinner.  I grabbed a few ingredients we always seem to have on hand, sort of measured, and threw everything in the food processor.  The result? A really tasty appetizer and the perfect tailgate snack.  It only takes a few minutes to prepare, and can be refrigerated for a day or two in advance.

Easy, gluten-free and vegan black bean dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 can or carton organic black beans, rinsed
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • juice from half a lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients, except for the salt and pepper, to your food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. This is a really important step: Pretend that the blended mixture doesn’t look like poop.
  3. Taste, and season with additional spices, plus salt and pepper, if desired.
  4. Garnish with a sprinkle of cilantro and serve with vegetables and tortilla chips.

Time to head back out on the deck.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your go-to game time snack?

 

Today: The (long) weekend according to Instagram XVIII.

The bad news: It’s September.  The good news:  It’s Tuesday.  I spent much of Labor Day Weekend laboring at our new condo, unpacking boxes and making poorly timed visits to Target during move-in weekend in Boston.  There was still plenty of time for long walks with Nick and Clark, visits with family, baking, bubble baths and juice on the deck.

The weekend according to Instagram XVIII

  1. Athleta sent me a generous gift card in celebration of National Yoga Month (more on that this week), so I stopped by their Newbury Street store with my sister and found the coziest, most comfortable pullover.  I live for thumbholes.
  2. While unpacking, I came across a box of festive umbrella straws.  They were in the same box as my Mexican flag toothpicks and an exploded jar of margarita salt.  Who knows.  The straw added a little late summer flair to Saturday’s juice.
  3. Special delivery, just in time for Healthy Living Summit: new last name –> new social media cards from MOO.
  4. Nick’s parents came down for lunch on Sunday.  While he grilled up a bunch of vegetables, steak and chicken, I went to work on appetizers, a green salad with a lemon vinaigrette, orzo salad, and a big bowl of fruit.  Clark helped by eating his body weight in watermelon.  I love having more room to entertain.  Almost as much as Nick loves having his own grill right off the kitchen.
  5. I’d been itching to bake since we moved in last week and had great luck with this recipe for banana muffins.  I made a few changes, swapping the flour for a mix of almond meal and gluten free baking mix, cutting the sugar in half and adding a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon.  They were perfectly baked after 20 minutes… and lasted almost that long on our counter before being gobbled up.
  6. What better way to wind down a day than a hot bath?  I can’t wait to share photos of the rest of our condo soon, but this giant soaking tub in the master bath is definitely a highlight.  I used a lavender and vanilla bath bomb from the Whole Body section at Whole Foods and soaked until my finger tips wrinkled.
  7. Have you seen the Self Care for September Challenge that Kristi and Erin hosting?  They’ve teamed up to create a month-long campaign filled with daily challenges to help encourage and inspire us all to develop our own self-care practices.  One of the suggestions on their list, which happens to be a favorite of mine?  Bring home fresh flowers for yourself.  Other suggestions include journaling, meditation, and…. bubble baths.
  8. Clark makes a lovely pillow.
  9. Nick and I hadn’t been to the movies in the theater ages, and while I love the actual movie-viewing part, I sort of hate the movie theater part.  The sticky floors, people gabbing away on their cellphones, and the risk of my elbow getting touched by a stranger’s elbow are enough to compel me to wait for a movie to hit Netflix.  I really wanted to see The Butler, though, so I checked out our options and landed on the Showcase SuperLux in Chestnut Hill.  The tickets were pricey, but I am glad I splashed out a little because Lord, have mercy… we may never go to a regular theater again.  We sat in the “superlux” section and enjoyed fully reclining leather seats, food and beverage service throughout the movie and complimentary popcorn. The only thing that would have made the experience better: a bottomless supply of tissues.  I’d like to blame the pregnancy hormones, but if you’ve ever witnessed me reading a Jonathan Kozol book for the fourteenth time, you know once I start crying I don’t stop.  Awkward sobbing aside, the movie was really, really great.


Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your (hopefully) long weekend?

Today: The weekend, according to Instagram II.

Another weekend, another attempt at unplugging.  Save for the Instagram machine iPhone.  Here’s what I was up to.

The weekend, according to Instagram:

the weekend according to instagram II

  1. One of our trainers at + dog is fostering a pitbull named Dexter.  I had the chance to take class with him (while our old man Frenchie snored in a nearby crate) on Friday night, working on basic obedience.  I used to be terrified of big dogs (some little ones, too), but have made a lot of progress in the past year or so.  I’ve learned so much about the importance of training, and how our behavior and energy affects our dogs.  I love that our trainers offer these opportunities; the foster dogs get additional socialization and we get to hone our skills.  It’s also a great exercise for Clark, the spoiled only furchild, to see us handle other dogs.  I have a feeling Dexter will be heading home with a new family very soon.   He may be bigger than my car, but he’s sweet, stable and really affectionate.
  2. Nick and I headed to CrossFit Southie on Saturday morning for a partner WOD.  Between the two of us, we cranked out 100 kettle bell swings, 100 overhead squats, 100 box jumps, 100 power cleans, and 100 burpees.  I laughed, I cried, I said swear words.
  3. And I burned a solid 819 calories between the warm-up, wod and cool down.  I love my Polar FT4.
  4. I take l-glutamine daily, per my RD’s recommendation, and decided to give fitmixer aminos (which contain l-glutamine and several other amino acids) a try this weekend to mix things up a bit.  It’s definitely on the sweet side, but a nice change from plain old powder and water.
  5. Clark was also in the mood to mix things up a bit this weekend, and took on a new roommate for his already overcrowded bed.  The dude loves to drag his toys over for a nap.
  6. I’ve been on such a lentil kick lately (see: last week’s red lentil and lemon soup).  This weekend’s creation looks, welp… sort of repulsive… but tastes incredible.   I sauteed half a yellow onion and four cloves of garlic with a little olive oil, salt and pepper while cooking one cup of black lentils.  Once the onions and garlic had softened and started to brown, I added two cups of diced roma tomatoes, and the cooked lentils.  And now you know what I am eating for lunch all week.
  7. If you’re nerdy and you know it and you really want to show it, Instagram your new collapsible recycling bin.
  8. When it comes to garlic and all things spicy, more is more in our condohold.
  9. Speaking of condos, we’re on the hunt for a new one.  While I love our home (especially after all the changes we’ve made), I am excited for what the future holds.  Especially if it holds additional storage for my nail polish collection.

  1. After Saturday’s workout, I promptly showered and put on pajama pants and an ugly, free tee shirt.  That’s our uniform for family pig piles on the sofa.
  2. We’re in the process of ditching cable TV, thanks to Nick’s ingenuity and ability to connect wires to things.  If you’ve got a Roku, I’d love any tips or recommendations you might be willing to share.
  3. I spent some time meal planning and perusing my new gluten free cookbook, a Christmas gift from my brother-in-law.
  4. A cold Sunday night called for an easy rice noodle, lemon grass and chili oil soup.
  5. Welp, here’s me and my (life) partner in crime after a tough workout, but before an iced coffee.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?

 

Today: #elf4health Round 2, Week 1

As with most important things in life (Harry Potter, eyebrow waxing, disco nails), I was a little tardy for the Elf for Health party.  A six week holiday season challenge started by Lindsey and Elle, Elf for Health includes partner pairings (I am paired up with Arielle, who just registered for her first half marathon… w00!).  If you’re interested in joining in, you have until December 22nd to sign up.  This week’s challenges were motivating and helped to shake up my usual routine a bit.

Elf for Health Round 2, Week 1

  • Monday: Track your water intake; aim to drink your body weight in ounces.  I always have one, if not three, water bottles at my desk, in my car, in my bag, and about the condo.  Having made real progress in my battle with Diet Coke (to quote Boyz II Men, “It’s so haaaaarrd to say say goodbye…“), a tall glass of water with a bit of lemon is my go-to.
  • Tuesday: Clean out your fridge and pantry; get rid of expired and unhealthy items.  This was quick and painless, but hugely needed.  Being a little shorty, I had no idea what was up on our top shelves.  Gluten free banana bread mix that expired in October?  Hmm.  I bagged up a number of (non-expired, obviously) items for the can drive in our office building and made room on our cabinet and refrigerator shelves for the week’s meals.
  • Wednesday: Work veggies into breakfast and lunch.   I love fresh green juice at the start of the day (the usual mix: carrots, spinach, kale, cucumbers, celery, apples, lemons and ginger) and a big salad for lunch.  I snack loudly on carrots and cucumbers throughout the day.  Dinner is usually less colorful for me, however, and Wednesday was no different.  Perhaps that should be my new challenge.
  • Thursday: Buy coffee for the person behind you.  Real talk: I was thiiiis close to buying coffee for the man behind me in line at the Dunkin’ drive through, but I chickened out for the following reasons imaginations: What if he thought I was hitting on him?  What if he followed me?  What if he accidentally spilled the gifted coffee, got burned, and then sued me?  I decided to forgo the coffee and handed out mandarins to co-workers instead.
  • Friday: Workout with a buddy.  I worked out solo on Friday, with plans to hit up Green Tea Yoga with my friend Elizabeth on Sunday.  It always feels so good to share a workout with a friend.  Especially when that workout is immediately followed by a chatty brunch, complete with mimosas.
  • Saturday: Donate to a holiday charity in your area.  Clark and I made a therapy dog visit to BU’s Mugar Library, where students were studying for final exams.  I also boxed up some extra holiday cards, lights, and Christmas decorations, which my mother brought to the local food pantry to be handed out to clients.  Whoever decided it’s better to give than receive was onto something.  Did you know that volunteering helps you stay healthy?  It’s true.

Also On Tap for Today:

Have you ever bought coffee for a stranger?  Was it lovely (I am guessing, yes)?  Teach me your ways.

 

Today: You’ve got mail. Now what?

Does anyone like checking the mail (like, the actual mail) more than me?  Doubtful.  The only thing I like checking more than the mail is the weather.  Actually, it’s probably too close to call.  With holiday cards, American Girl catalogs (Why, oh why, are we on their mailing list?) and mystery packages flooding in, our mail clutter has gotten a bit out of control.

You’ve got mail.  And it’s piling up all over your condo.  Now what?  Here’s how I reign it in.

Open your mail directly over your recycling bin.

This is the easiest way to cut down on mail clutter.  If it’s in your recycling bin, it can’t be on your kitchen counter.  Easy as that.  Almost all of our catalogs and solicitations go directly into our mail room’s bin.  Anything that makes it in our door (credit card companies can be so sneaky), swiftly gets recycled in our nearby trash room.  If you’re thinking, “But… I don’t recycle,” please leave the Internet immediately and remedy that.  I’m serious.  And so is Al Gore.

Go paperless whenever possible.

If you want to cut back on your overall mail volume, go paperless whenever possible.  You might consider setting up an email address for this express purpose.  For example, if Clark had access to a debit card and a cell phone (in my dreams, he would call me just to chat over lunch), he might have his statements sent to ClarksBILLS(at)topdog.gov.  Or whatever.  This ensures all of your monthly bills and statements are all in one place, without clogging up your personal email inbox with unpleasantries.

An added bonus?  Some companies offer discounts or other incentives when you forgo paper mailings:

To reduce the amount of commercial mail your receive, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website to learn how to opt out of unsolicited mail and check out Earth 911’s suggested steps.

Keep things contained.

Establish a landing spot for your mail.  This is especially helpful if you have a family, roommates, or if you regularly receive someone else’s mail (I am not sure why that would happen, but in the spirit of inclusiveness…).  I often get home before Nick, so I stash all of his mail and mail that I need to follow up on in this cute little container that I found on One Kings Lane recently.

It matches our English wallpaper, there are no longer random heaps of unopened envelopes strewn about the condo, and life is perfect.

Share your magazine subscriptions, keep only what you’ll use or re-read.

If you’re normal, you might look into iPad or electronic versions of your favorite periodicals.  If you’re like me, you have little interest in going paperless when it comes to books and magazines.  I am sure Kindles are wonderful, but I like the way books smell.  And I like being able to tear out magazine articles that capture my interest.  My love for both books and magazines translates to piles upon piles of the two, however.  Fortunately, there will always be someone interested in reading last month’s Glamour at the gym.  Find a friend, a public library, or a fitness center that accepts donated magazines and make a habit of clearing your stack at the end of each month.  You might even consider reducing the number of magazines you subscribe to, and share subscriptions with a friend.  You subscribe to Martha Stewart Living, she subscribes to Real Simple.  (I would totally call dibs on Martha.)

 

I keep articles (or entire volumes) I can’t bear to part with neatly tucked away in a magazine file or letter-sized box.  Inevitably, I rarely revisit them… so I make sure to clean out these collections every few months as well.  For recipes, quotes, shopping recommendations or workout, I find taking a quick photo and saving it to a specific album on my iPhone does the trick.

Now I just need to get my iPhone albums under control…

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your best trick for staying on top of the mail?

 

Today: Deck the condo.

I waited as long as I possibly could (specifically, the day before Thanksgiving) to deck the condo.  We are waiting until next weekend to pick up our Christmas tree, so I suppose I have practiced some restraint.  I capitalized on my half day Wednesday and dug through our storage unit for our Christmas boxes.  I squealed as I peeled back the covers of each box.  Clark was very interested in their contents too, and as a result, I spent much of the afternoon cleaning glitter from his fur.  He lives for sparkle.  As the photos below will tell you, so do I.

I cashed in a Crate and Barrel gift card a while back when this sparkly wreath (it’s far more sparkly in person, I assure you) caught my eye.

This little vignette on our mantle came together when our somewhat Catholic-looking Buddha (he’s very St. Francis from the neck down, wouldn’t you say?) kept threatening to topple from a side table and needed to be relocated.  I can never decide if the horse head is The Godfather creepy or equestrian chic.  Or both.  For now… it sparkles, so it stays.

One of my favorite things to come out of storage is my improvised Advent wreath, which I pulled together last year, two hours before my Advent faith sharing group came together for the first time.  I couldn’t find an actual Advent wreath anywhere (likely because everyone else in Boston planned ahead), so I grabbed four crystal candle holders and a strand of glass garland and voila.  As much as I love traditional holiday decor, I really like the simple beauty of this wreath and what it symbolizes for me.  Plus, it doesn’t need to be kept alive.

My sole Black Friday purchase this year was this perfect set of sparkly, yet subtle, linen and sequin stockings.  They match our real life and holiday decor perfectly.  Because I am the worst secret keeper in the history of secrets, and have to fight a strong urge to give everyone their presents the second I have them in hand, I like being able to drop small gifts for Nick and Clark in their stockings in the days leading up to Christmas.  Neither of them peek before the 25th.  It’s quite remarkable, really.

Yep, the condo has been decked and the stockings have been hung.  With care.  Despite the lack of a chimney.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you decorate for the holidays?  What is your favorite decoration?

Today: A weekend at home.

Home Alone

My older brother and sister-in-law celebrated their wedding anniversary this week, which meant Nick and I got to babysit our niece for the first time.  We partied like animals, singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star while changing into PJs at 6:45 PM and reading not one, but two books before bed.  She is just heaven to be around.

Home Improvement

Much of the rest of the weekend was spent working on wedding projects and trying to rectify the broken sink situation.  We made two trips to Home Depot and managed to sneak in a little fun between visits to the faucet aisle.  There is so much to see and touch (and break) in that store.  I was tempted to buy a pink ride-on pony from the Christmas section, but refrained.  Instead, we picked up some PVC pipe for mobility and Crossfit practice at home.  It will also come in handy when I want to turn off the light switch without getting up from the sofa.  Just kidding.  Mostly.

Home away from home

 

We spent this morning at Clark’s home away from home, the local children’s hospital where he does his therapy dog visits.  I can think of no better way to pass a rainy Sunday morning than watching the kids snuggle with the Frenchie, feed him treats, tug on his ears, and hold him in their laps.  It makes my heart swell.

Home cookin’

At the risk of tooting my own horn, I’m very excited to share that On Tap for Today was included in the North Atlantic edition of the Whole Foods Market 2012 Holiday Magazine’s “On the Web: Fresh Voices” feature, along with my pal Caitlin and the lovely We Are Not Martha girls.  I’m really grateful to the team at Whole Foods for including me, and was sure to pick up a few copies today after grabbing groceries at River Street.

On the menu tonight?  Enough vegetarian chili to feed an army.

 

Homemade

What would Sunday night be without a do-it-myself manicure?

I live for rituals.  And weekends at home.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Packing up goodies for Kasee, my #atxbos match
  • Getting ready for the week ahead
  • Seating charts 🙂

What’s your Sunday ritual?